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Pass Christian PD Has Alarmingly High Turnover Rates

by Calvin Ishee

Pass Christian Ward 3 Alderman Anthony Hall raised a red flag over the ongoing high turnover of Pass Christian Police Officers at the February 19th PC Board of Aldermen (BOA) meeting Tuesday evening. The Board accepted four more new resignations from the police department.  In fact, two of the resignation letters resulted in the Board going into two separate executive sessions.

One resignation letter from former nine year veteran PC Police Officer Mickey Moran included comments justifying his immediate resignation from PCPD:  “As you must be aware, during the last few years, we have had and are still having conflicts within the department, differences of opinion and the department has had a large turnover, which is affecting morale.”  Moran further added, “I am one of the last 3 remaining employees from the previous administration and feel unappreciated under this administration.”

Another resignation was included in an addendum to the agenda which simply stated, “Consider going into an Executive Session to discuss personnel matter in the Police Department.”

After a lengthy discussion, the Board returned and approved the resignation of police officer Michael Burkett.  Alderman Hall reaffirmed his concern regarding the high turnover rate and asked Pass Christian Police Chief Tim Hendricks where he stood with completing a report that he had asked for over a year ago regarding their high turnover rate?  Chief Hendricks stated that it had not been done but said that he would complete it after Mardi Gras. Subsequently, Ward 2 Alderwoman Regina Charlot asked that a copy of the final report be given to all BOA Members.

Next, Alderman Hall requested such information as to how many officers have resigned, for what reason(s), and Chief Hendricks’ plans for fixing this problem. Once released by the City, The Gazebo Gazette will publish it’s findings.

The Gazebo Gazette formally asked the City for a copy of the resignation letter from officer Michael Burkett, but the request was denied by City Attorney Malcolm Jones. The denial was made in spite of past resignation letters being placed in the public record. Jones cited MCA Section 25-1-100 as justification for denying access to the resignation letter.

With this week’s agenda, a total of four resignation letters were made, which the City could be in previous violation if the law was not upheld in the past. Jones expressed that he strives to remain abreast of new law changes to ensure city compliance with such changes.

Additionally, the Board approved Monday, February 25th as the date to conduct interviews for the vacant Pass Christian School Board Trustee position.

As of the morning of February 20th, only two applications had been received from interested parties.

Although the Board approved three of the PC Tree Boards recommendations regarding tree removal requests, they overrode the Tree Board’s denial of David and Laurie’s Estep’s request to remove two live oaks from close proximity to their house.

A lively discussion included Mayor Leo “Chipper” McDermott’s reminding the Estep’s of the importance of these trees, he especially noted the protection they can provide during hurricanes.

Finally, McDermott declared that his inclination was to veto the Board’s decision. As of printing time, the Mayor had not exercised his veto rights on this issue.

The BOA authorized the addition of 10 new street paving projects to those previously approved in December 2018. The total investment in paving projects in Pass Christian now totals $353,942. Alderwoman Charlot inquired Mayor McDermott how the list was developed?  The Mayor responded that he had personally developed the list.

Several Board members asked once again that the Mayor include them in the decision-making process. These projects will now be forwarded to the Harrison County Board of Supervisors for approval.  The Mayor believed that it is more economically feasible for the County to do these projects instead of the City. Using the County for paving projects saves money and allows the City to better maximize its limited resources.

During the Public Comments portion of the meeting Alderwoman Charlot thanked the PC Fire Department for assisting one of her family members during an emergency.

Finally, Pass Christian School Board President Margaret Jean Kalif asked the Mayor and Police Chief’s regarding the City’s plan for safe road crossings on Highway 90 during the Pass Parade. Both responded that there is no specific plan to deal with this issue.

Chief Hendricks said the maximum police patrols will be out and citizens are encouraged to use proper road crossings at the various traffic lights on Highway 90.  Kalif expressed that she wanted to make sure there wasn’t another accident like the one did back during Christmas in the Pass.

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